Introduction Albu van Eeden
On a day like today, we should desire to celebrate it together. Brethren, you and I are called to celebrate together with the body of Christ. Even though there are Covid restrictions and we must maintain social distance, but we should desire to be together with the other children of God and not do our own thing in our private comfort zones. We are called to crucify our comfort zones.
Today is a wonderful day and we praise God for it. The theme for today’s message is: For unto us a child is born.
Reverend Erlo Stegen
It is Christmas day and I wish you a blessed Christmas. For some today will be death and for some today will be life.
There was once a white man who was a drunkard. A drunkard is not respected. His life goes downhill until he becomes a tramp. He loses everything. This drunkard got converted here and at Christmas time he told us that it was the first time in 20 years that he was sober. He said he did not know what real Christmas was. He would begin drinking before Christmas day and he only started sobering up by the time New Year was over. As he walked around here, he said, ‘I think I am dreaming. I am experiencing Christmas for the first time.’ A person who drinks is dirty. He just lets loose. He will wake up in the morning on the streets, dirty and covered in dew. What can you say about drink? The Bible says that he who is deceived by wine is not wise. Those who drink, understand this: you are deceived by drink, you have no understanding.
On this day we remember the birth of the Son of God. It is a day of joy and glad tidings. The shepherds were out in the fields at night when suddenly angels appeared, and the glory of God shone around them as if it was bright daylight. The angel said, ‘Do not be afraid for we bring you tidings of great joy.’ The day of the birth of Jesus shook the hosts of heaven. The angels, the vast hosts of heaven, stood on their feet, not just the wise men from the east. The choirs of heaven went down to join the leader of the angels who announced the glad tidings. They sang for the shepherds. There is no day greater than the day when the King entered the world to save His people.
The angels had to preach to the world because the religious people were fast asleep. The Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees should have been able to announce the glad tidings but instead they were busy with their sins. It was the angels who came down to announce these great tidings and what wonderful news it was for those who had receptive hearts.
Not everyone received this news positively. When Herod heard it, he wanted to squash it. ‘Let blood be spilled,’ he said, ‘this Child must be killed.’ Everybody should be willing to lay aside their grievances, put aside their weapons and rejoice on this day. But instead, you find people like Herod saying, ‘Kill this Child. We do not have time to hear what the angels have to say.’
Going against Christmas in this way is not something new. It was quite normal at the birth of Christ. When Jesus was to be crucified, Pilate gave the crowd a choice: Jesus or Barabbas? The crowds shouted for the release of the murderer, the rebel. Today the world also shouts for the release of that murderer. All the nations agree and shout in unison, ‘Release Barabbas!’ Who is willing to say, ‘Release Jesus!’ Even America does not say it. I am not preaching politics; I am telling you the plain truth. This happened at the death of Christ. The people had to choose between Barabbas, the murderer, or Jesus. Where are the nations, the parties and the groups that say, ‘Let Jesus be released!’ But what do they say? ‘Let it be a black Christmas. Switch off all the lights!’ Discern rightly otherwise you will be confused.
Some people are very busy at Christmas. They put up Christmas trees and decorate them to attract people, but they are unconcerned about the Child; they are only concerned about money. If they get a bit of money, they say it is a good Christmas because their pockets are full. If you would offer Jesus or money, they would say, ‘Money! We are not concerned about this Jesus!’ They are the same as the crowds who said, ‘Barabbas – money, not Jesus!’
Overseas they celebrate Christmas with many beautiful tree decorations. Maybe your Christmas tree is wonderfully decorated, but is it more beautifully decorated than your heart? Which has the greater sparkle, your heart or the tree? Which one is more meaningful and greater to you – the Child or something else such as Christmas gifts? Maybe it is God who has released the hordes from hell, like locusts because people are more interested in the trappings of Christmas, not the real thing. For some people Christmas is getting a new dress and new things. Jesus, however, is not so concerned about the beauty of the outward things, but the beauty of the heart. Perhaps we are busy with our Christmas, our Holiday Inn, but Jesus is in the lowly cattle stable.
Just read the wonder and amazement of the things the angels did at the birth of the Christ Child and compare yourself. Do you have the spirit of heaven or not? You can think so compare yourself to them. The Christ Child did not come to die for the angels but for us sinners, who fight with each other and die. Little boys run around and fight. One picks up a stone and the other hides around the corner. Things get broken. Children fight for position and want to show each other who is the strongest. There are even adults who fight for authority. The Christ child came for such people.
This is the time of Christmas. The Christ Child has come but there is no room for Him. The parents came but there was no room. Does He find room in you? There might be criticism in you, fighting, friction and disagreement and the Child finds no place.
There is a song that says: You have room for everything, everything, but no room for Jesus. You will never have a true, good Christmas if you have not given room to Jesus. If I wish you a blessed Christmas, then I wish you a blessed Christmas where you give room to Jesus so that you will be filled with this blessed peace.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7
I would like to focus on this point and the government will be on his shoulders. There is much we find in this portion.
It says, Wonderful Counsellor. We need the entire day to explain the wonder of this Wonderful Counsellor. If you have an unsolvable problem and you do not know what to do, you can go to Jesus, and He will be a Wonderful Counsellor. He is the Mighty God. When you meet with problems that are above your ability and strength but come to Him who is the Mighty God. He is the Everlasting Father, unchangeable, always the same. Your earthly father will pass away but He never will. God never. He is the Prince of Peace. Although there is friction, but if you have Him, you have peace. If you have time go into the text at home. Make a study of this word and ask the Lord to reveal to you what He means through this.
…the government will be on his shoulders. In Zulu it says, ‘the rule’. In Hebrew it means the final authority and power will be on His shoulders. The final, princely power will be on the shoulders of this Child. Grasp this fact today. Jesus witnessed to this when He rose from the dead and He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ Matthew 28:18 All authority and power has been given to Him. He carries it upon His shoulders. He does not just wear a badge showing that He represents that power, but the power is His, it is His very own possession. In that manger all authority and power was upon Him. Standing before Pilate as a prisoner, having endured scourging, all power was upon Him. It would be good if the world would understand that all authority is upon the shoulders of Jesus. Pilate said to Jesus, ‘Why don’t you answer me? Don’t you realise that I have the power to crucify you or to set you free?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power if it had not been given to you from above.’ Remember when Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?’ Matthew 26:53
You have no power. You will be eaten by maggots tomorrow but Christ will stand forever. Some people say, ‘This is my life, my money, my farm.’ Remember the rich man in the Bible who had just filled his barns and thought that he had many years to enjoy his riches. But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you…’ Luke 12:20 People who speak like this are in great darkness. Satan has thrown sand into their eyes. When will it dawn? When will the bright morning star dawn in our hearts and announce the break of day? Many ministers propagate a political gospel and Satan sends out his preachers to do this. Preachers, are we going to become rotten with those who are rotten? Are we going to be destroyed with those who are being destroyed? Do we have no spirit within us to stand up and speak?
The final princely power and government shall be upon the shoulders of this Child. It is this Christ Child who controls everything. He has authority even over the nations with atom and hydrogen bombs. The kings and rulers of this world are in the hands of this Child. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. All the governments in this world are under His control. The whole world is His footstool. Imagine all the nations of the world – the Lord rests His foot on them. Russia, America, Europe – the keys of authority are in the hands of this Child. The nation or the empire that does not bow to the rulership of this Child, will fizzle down to nothing. They will float down the river and be eaten by sharks. Any king or president who does not bow to this Child will be blown away with the wind. Whatever town you live in whether it be Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Soweto, if you do not bow to this Child, you will go to hell. This Child can uplift nations and bring them down. You too, will be uplifted by the Child or brought down by this Child. This child has the whole world in His hands.
Rulers have been ruling for ages. Since the birth of Jesus there have been rulers like Herod. He resisted and revolted against this Child, nor realising that his very existence depended on this Child. When Jesus was a helpless child, Herod planned to send soldiers to kill Him but the power from heaven said to Joseph, ‘Herod wants to kill the Child, rise and take Him and His mother to Egypt and hide.’ Herod sent platoons of soldiers but the Child escaped for not one hair will fall to the ground except for that power. A simple dream foiled Herod’s plans and sent them to Egypt on a donkey to escape Herod.
Just a few years later when the Christ Child was safe, they received the news that Herod was dead, eaten by worms. You see this Child? He holds all the nations, and the government is on His shoulders.
I could tell you about the Roman empire and the German empire, but the real government is upon the shoulders of this Child. If a nation resists this Child, it will die. If they choose His side they will live. I have a painting in my home and you can come and look at it if you would like to. At the time of Martin Luther, Germany was a vast empire which was ruled by the emperor. He resisted the Gospel and from that time the empire began disintegrating. Germany today is just a fraction of what it was at the time. From that time, it has become more and more fragmented. Go against this Child and see what happens to you. That same German emperor ended his last years in a monastery behind closed doors doing penance because he felt guilty. What will happen to you? Fight against this Child and your future will be absolutely pitch black. Fight against this Child and your future will be darker than the blackness of your heart no matter what nation you belong to. If you fight against the Child, you are fighting against your very existence.
Now is the time to bow to this Child. Nothing will come right for us apart from this Christ Child. You will live or be destroyed by this Child. You will rise or fall through Him. We waste our time on many things when we have been given a Child, a Son has been born to us. Why should we waste our time? The government and authority is on His shoulders. You may kill each other, but how terribly ashamed you will be one day when you are face-to-face with this Child, and you see the authority on His shoulders.
Unto us a Child is born and all authority and the government is on His shoulders. Do you see the hosts of heaven worshipping this Child? How much more shouldn’t all the nations decorate and beautify their hearts for this Child? Should we not forget and lay aside everything else for this Child? Should we not all come and bow before this Child? This Child is greater than your own understanding and intelligence, greater than your own head, greater than your own nation, than your own tradition and culture.
In the same part of Isaiah, he speaks of those who visit mediums and spiritists. Those who are alive go to the dead! If you who are alive go to those who are dead because you have forsaken the Christ Child, there is no greater fool than you in this world. If your own parent or relative is dead, would you ask that corpse to make you some tea? Why do you not go to that spirit, the deceased one and say, ‘I am sick, please fetch water, cook food, polish the floor?’ The corpse cannot do anything. It cannot even chase away a fly when it sits on it. I have buried more people than are in the congregation today. I have often had to wash the corpses and put them in coffins. I have often even used my own handkerchief to clean the faces of the corpses in the coffin (to make them look more respectable for the sake of the family) because the corpse could not do it itself. Yet, you go to them to ask for help. You will only get bad luck. You visit witchdoctors and consult mediums to receive medicine to get you out of a bad corner. Do you want me to mock you nations who do such foolish things? Come to this Christ Child, bow before Him, all authority and power and the government is on His shoulders.
You know how to have concern for your children and relatives but here is Someone far greater than your children or relatives. You may think you are a man because you bully and beat your wife and children but there is Someone greater than you. If you have a stroke, you will be dependent on your wife. Pinch God and He will pinch you until you bow even if it is in hell. Wife, let is speak the truth, do you not always try and rule the man? Sometimes when you enter a home, you are not sure who is wearing the trousers. Some men ‘get strength’ from drink. What kind of strength is that? It makes a man so weak that even his wife can attack him. Wife, if you can attack your husband when he is drunk, remember you have no real power. All authority and power rests with this Christ Child.
A white lady told me a few years ago that she does not believe there is a wife who cannot wrap her husband around her little finger. That is all he is worth, and he can be wrapped around his wife’s little finger. Even if your husband is so weak and you manage to do that, there is one who is not as weak as your husband, one before whom you need to bow down with your face to the ground.
Today a Child is born and to us a Son is given and all authority is on His shoulders. I would be thankful if you have an ear to hear. If you have been drowsy in the service so that you have not heard anything, ask someone to pray with you. Ask God so that the demon of sleepiness will be cast out. If you have been kept awake by worry, do not do that again. Have an ear to hear what God says. You can be sure that what I have said is true. Read it from God’s word. Go and check it and it will be the same in your Bible.
Go to your party and tell your leader that all authority rests upon the shoulders of this Child. If you want the power, then come to this Child.
Finally, in the last book of the Bible, Revelations, it speaks about the rule, the government of Jesus in heaven when He rules over the world. Right now, Jesus is in control of this world. Read Revelations and you will read about His rule and authority over the world right now. Though you do not see Jesus with your physical eyes, and you only see earthly kingdoms, this final book speaks about the rulership of Jesus which He carries on His shoulders. When John the Apostle had been arrested and exiled on the isle of Patmos, he realised that it was not his oppressors but Jesus who ruled. Even if you see terrible things happening remember that it is God who rules.
Take note of this Child now. Come to Him. Bow to Him because the future rests in the hands of this Child. If you do not have time for Him, He will not have time for you. The Lord says, ‘So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:32,33
Conclusion Albu van Eeden
Friends, it is glorious. Even though he spoke extensively about the weakness and sinfulness of man, the glory of the government and the kingdom is glorious. It builds me up, encourages and excites me. Let us serve Him with all our hearts. Give Him your life. Put it all on the altar so that you can be part of His government and kingdom.